Helping the Parkinson’s Movement, Personally and Professionally
As the only movement disorder specialist in the Montérégie region of Quebec, Dr. Martin Cloutier is a crucial healthcare provider for the local Parkinson’s community.
More than half of his approximate 1000 patients have Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Cloutier, Director of Clinical Medicine at the Neuro Rive Sud, sees most of his patients twice a year, adding additional appointments as needed, while working closely with public clinics and family doctors to provide the highest level of care.
“The patients in our Parkinson’s clinic receive personal attention. We don’t book short appointments. It’s essential that we give our patients the time to tell us what they feel is important for them. We assess motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms like sleep issues, depression and cognitive decline,” said Dr. Cloutier.
Dr. Cloutier and his colleagues at the Neuro Rive Sud clinic also take the time to help educate and prepare caregivers and family members of the person with Parkinson’s. He advises these front-line members of care teams on assistive devices and tools for in-home care, as well as making recommendations for acquiring services from home-care specialists.
“We try and help caregivers do their jobs,” Dr. Cloutier added.
In addition to Parkinson’s patients Dr. Cloutier also serves people with dystonia, Huntington’s disease, Multiple System Atrophy and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, to name a few. All patients, regardless of their specific diagnosis, benefit from Dr. Cloutier’s movement disorder expertise. Without regular visits and ongoing care many of his patients would have to live in a nursing home.
“Our recommendations and treatment plans help them stay in their own environment. At the office we go through symptoms and medication and find out what can be done to keep them as healthy and independent as possible,” Dr. Cloutier said.
Dr. Cloutier advises his clients to advocate for themselves and manage their disease to stay healthy. He advises them to rigidly schedule and follow medication routines, exercise regularly and control diets. These are the biggest factors in day-to-day management of Parkinson’s.
“I tell them that exercise is just as important as the pills. Sleep is also a huge issue for people with Parkinson’s. They should go to bed at the same time every day. This night-time routine will help them over the long term,” Dr. Cloutier cautioned.
During their lengthy one-on-one sessions Dr. Cloutier works closely with his patients to gauge their specific desires and needs.
“We try to figure out what people want to know about the disease. For some the more they learn the more they’ll be able to cope while in others it can cause a lot of anxiety learning what may come in the future. When I first meet patients we try to figure out if sharing what they are going through with others will be helpful, and then recommend a support group when necessary. For some it’s helpful,” said Dr. Cloutier.
Patients like Christine Beaudoin have benefited from Dr. Cloutier’s thorough approach. After becoming a patient three years ago Christine also participated in a research program through Dr. Cloutier’s office. Over that time she had increased visits to the clinic and more feedback from allied health professionals who are part of the team there. Even though her medical appointments are less frequent since the end of the research program Christine still receives top-notch care from Dr. Cloutier and his staff.
“I can get help immediately. That’s what is so great about Dr. Cloutier’s clinic. When I need help, he listens to me and takes care of my needs. He answers my questions and makes sure I have the right treatment plan. All the staff work as a great care team. The nurses and secretaries provide the best service,” said Christine.
Dr. Cloutier helps his patient community get moving, in every sense of the word. In addition to Dr. Cloutier helping Parkinson’s patients with their movement in the clinic, he encourages people with Parkinson’s to help the cause. Dr. Cloutier is a frequent participant in his local Parkinson SuperWalk.
“Hope is the message at SuperWalk. There’s a lot of research going on. The research community makes progress every year. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll find better treatments than what we have now,” Dr. Cloutier said.